Milk

2009-04-28 12:17
 
What it's about:

In 1972, Harvey Milk (Sean Penn) moves to the Castro District of San Francisco from New York with his lover Scott Smith (James Franco). They open a camera store and become the focal point of the gay movement as the store begins to attract a flock of young gay men to the area. As a conservative wave takes over the country, Milk becomes an unlikely voice for the disenfranchised and along with solid support from his community he campaigns to become a city supervisor – eventually succeeding in 1977 to become the first openly gay man to ever be elected for public office in the US. Milk's political agenda begins to collide with that of another newly appointed supervisor, Dan White (Josh Brolin), and this proves to be the downfall of both men.

What we thought of it:

Lovingly researched, directed and performed, Milk is an engrossing account of one man's rise above fear, prejudice and bigotry to inspire a nation and help mould a society in which old and young, gay and straight, black and white felt empowered to use their voices for change.

Central to Milk's success as both a rousing biopic and political movie is the Oscar-winning script by Dustin Lance Black. The story is told as Milk, less than two years shy of his 50th, reflects back on his journey from small-time businessman, to gay activist, to national hero. Along with the use of archival footage, the story is grounded in realism, but also told with a bristling energy that makes it compelling viewing as well.

Of course none of this would have had any effect without the commanding, almost transcendental performance by Sean Penn as Harvey Milk. This is perhaps the happiest, most impassioned performance we've seen from the man more familiar in territory where the intensity factor is at breaking point. Penn all but disappears behind his effeminate transformation and imbues the character with the warmth, fervour and self-confidence that attracted people to the haven Milk provided, just by being in his presence. It's yet another career-highlight in a career of highlights for Penn.

Director Gus van Sant had a difficult job to do as Milk's story is ultimately a tragic one, so the temptation to drown his movie in superfluous sentiment was strong. Van Sant sidesteps this well-worn feature of the biographical film by allowing Milk's personality to radiate and come alive for a generation that has taken its freedoms for granted.

Milk is that rare thing; a film about serious political and social issues that isn't preachy or overbearing. It's a warm evocation of troubling yet inspiring times that has as much relevance today as it did back then.
The story of Harvey Milk, and his struggles as an American gay activist who fought for gay rights and became California's first openly gay elected official.

Lily-Anne 2009/04/28 12:09 PM
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Nice review that made me really want to go see the film. Gus Van Sant is either useless or great.
Kevin Levy 2009/04/28 2:42 PM
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I saw this film and it is very inspiring and a must-see movie of the year! It is very emotive and very powerful...makes every person think about their circumstances and should make every Gay person very proud...as I am!
preshen govender 2009/07/28 1:27 PM
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If you call a gay man an a$$hole will he be pissed off or turned on.
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